Communists Just Don't Get Me

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The official Chinese reaction to Hillary Clinton's candid comments to me has come in, and it is entirely predictable. From Reuters:

China's foreign ministry on Thursday downplayed comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the country was on a "fool's errand" to try to halt the march of freedom, suggesting the remarks were taken out of context.

In an interview with the Atlantic magazine published on Tuesday, the last day of a strategic economic dialogue between China and the United States in Washington, Clinton took the Chinese to task in some of her most vivid language to date.

"They're worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool's errand," she said in the April 7 interview, which focused largely on political upheaval in the Middle East. "They cannot do it. But they're going to hold it off as long as possible."

But Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the comments did not distract from the overall successful tone of the Washington meetings.

"I think perhaps you have taken the quotes out of context, and ought to look at the full picture to understand the U.S. appraisal of the talks' achievements," Jiang told a regular news briefing in Beijing, when asked about Clinton's interview.

Here's the context, for anyone who wants to look. This episode reminded me of my recent encounter with Cuba's spin-doctors, who asserted, after Fidel Castro told me that the "Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore," that what Fidel meant was that the Cuban model worked just fine. The next week, of course, the Cuban government announced plans to lay-off a half-million state workers and open up the country to private enterprise.

I just have no luck with Communists, I guess.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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